Reports surfaced yesterday afternoon that Michael Slager, the white officer of North Charleston, S.C. that shot unarmed black man, Walter Scott has been indicted on a murder charge. The shooting, which took place April 4th, happened following a traffic stop in which the 50-year old Scott ran away from the 33-year old Slager, who after a brief struggle over the officer’s taser, then fired eight shots fatally injuring Walter Scott. After a pedestrian shot video of the incident circulated the internet, it caused outrage as viewers condemned the officers tactics, citing that the unarmed Scott didn’t pose a threat. The incident followed a series of other incidents between police officers and the often fatal results of their interaction with communities of color, particularly when dealing with black men. The #BlackLivesMatter movement that gained momentum nationally out of a response to the deaths of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, and Eric Garner among others, quickly galvanized around the death of Scott and staged protests asking for the removal and persecution of officer Slager.
Prosecutor Scarlet Wilson announced the indictment earlier today, and added “The jury will make up its own mind after it sees the video and hears the other testimony”. Per a report, ‘under South Carolina law, there is only a single murder charge, which was described by Ms. Wilson as being an “unlawful killing with malice aforethought” — with the premeditation required to exist for only a few seconds before a killing in order to gain a conviction.’ As of now, a trial date has not been set.
According to police records obtained by The New York Times, Mr. Slager was a former member of the Coast Guard before joining the North Charleston force in 2010. He’d tallied 18 use-of-force episodes before the death of Walter Scott during his time on the force, and also two formal complaints. According to those records, this was the only time that Mr. Slager fired his handgun while on patrol, with the majority of his episodes involving the excessive use of his taser.
Reactions to the indictment on social media have generally been positive, with many noting the unfortunate frequency with which these cases are appearing, a possible reference to the indictment of the six officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray several weeks ago.
— GottaLaff (@GottaLaff) June 8, 2015
Glad the cop that shot #WalterScott got indicted. I'll be more impressed if he's convicted though.
— Chad Butler (@TrillAC_) June 8, 2015
— Keith Rose (@KWRose) June 8, 2015
The officer who killed #WalterScott in Charleston has just been indicted for murder! ....don't confuse indictment for conviction
— jamalbryant (@jamalhbryant) June 8, 2015